Sunday, February 24, 2008

May Their Tribe Increase

The New Yawk Times reports that 3 million people give up golf every year. If I had an ounce of sense, I would join them. But no. If it ever quits raining and/or warms up around here you will find me out there with my little lawyer and journalist friends trying to make the little white ball defy the laws of physics by striking it with a curved stick. And spending a small fortune for the privilege.

Anyway, read about the 3 million sensible Americans here.

My Sunday Feeling

I got the call as I was walking back to work after lunch last Tuesday.

" It's Pat. Have you heard about Richard's wife?"

My friends and I are at the age when stuff happens. I stopped dead in my tracks in front of the Courthouse.

Turns out that Jan was at UAMS in the ICU. She came down with flu like symptoms earlier in the week. She kept getting worse. Last Monday she was too weak to walk so they called the ambulance. Double-pneumonia.

When I got there the situation had deteriorated even further. She was sedated and on a ventilator. She had gone septic which had caused her kidneys to stop working. So they had started her on dialysis. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Neither could her husband.

" How can a person be perfectly healthy earlier in the week and now THIS?" he asked, gesturing at the person behind the glass. " I mean, I would understand it if a car accident caused this but a cold or flu? I can't believe this!" I looked over his shoulder at the figure of their daughter Ann Marie curled up in a ball at a chair beside her mother's bed. Red eyes. Blank expression. Poor baby.

At that moment my phone buzzed. It was maximum girlfriend emeritus LS. I stepped back into the waiting room.

"Is Richard with you now?" she asked.

" No. And hello to you as well."

" Don't talk. Listen."

OK. This ought to be good.

" My friend Angie? You remember?"


" She was admitted over there 3 weeks ago with the same symptoms. They treated her they same way they are treating Jan. Angie died last night."

" Jesus. I'm so sorry. What....."

"Something called BOOP." She is from North Little Rock. She pronounced it "Beeeeewp."

"What's BOOP?"

"I don't know but you better hope Jan doesn't have it. I just wanted to call you and tell you that you need to keep your eyes open wide. Because things can get ugly real fast."

I looked it up on the Internet when I got home. BOOP stands for Broncholitis Obliterans with Organizing Pneumonia. Jesus. I will never think of Betty Boop in the same way again.

I have known Richard and his family for 20 some odd years. Richard, Pat, Rick and I used to play doubles every Sunday. I played competitively back in those days. The only time I had fun playing tennis was on Sunday with the guys. Jan would never come watch us play having had sufficient juvenalia on the job with the Kindergarten class.

I remembered all of the Saturday nights at my house after the Razorback games down the street, drinking beer and laughing. One night some sorority type showed up while we were all there looking for their son Martin. I asked her how she found my house. She said she asked a cop doing traffic control if he knew where I lived. Damned if he didn't know. Richard allowed as how the cop must've been a member of the Vice Squad who was moonlighting at the Razorback game.

I sang at Ann Marie's wedding. It is typical for there to be some rough spots in the planning of any wedding and Ann Marie's was no different. Predictably, Richard got sideways with the caterer. I happened to be standing there at the reception hall when he was threatening to fire them a week before the ceremony. "Mrs. P" as she was always referred to asked me if she could speak to her husband in private. "Yes Ma'am" I muttered as I sprinted to the door.

The caterer was not fired.

Such a fine family. Such good friends. Such happy memories.

Now this. Of all damn things.

We take good fortune as a given. We assume that if we live in a certain way in certain parts of town that are somehow immune to the trouble that besets everybody else. The most happy tunes are whistled in the dark. The old hymn says God "lends us breath." You don't get to keep what is loaned. We forget that. Or at least we do until a loved one goes down.

The word from the hospital today is guardedly hopeful. Her lungs are clearing. Her blood pressure is increasing. Betty Boop's name has not been mentioned. The doctors want to start weaning her off the sedation in order to see if she can breathe on her own. That, and they need to start talking to their patient. Right now, the telemetry and the lab work is doing her talking for her. She would hate that. Mrs. P is a talker and nobody puts words in her mouth. Fire the caterer huh? We'll just see about THAT.

I'll praise my God who lends me me breath. And I look forward to the day when Mrs. P catches hers again.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

My Sunday Feeling

I know that I've written a lot about sports lately. And I know that some folks don't much care for sports-related posts here because I tend to hear from them. But there has been so much interesting stuff going on lately both on and off the field that I just can't help myself.

But this post is not so much about sports or baseball even though it involves New York Yankee pitcher Roger Clemens. It is not so much about steroids in sports because I think we are so beyond having the capacity to be shocked over the apparent truth that steroid use was abundant in Major League Baseball for about a 10 year stretch in the nineties. And it is not about that most complicated of endeavors, human relationships, even though the Mitchell Report caused both friends to testify about friends and former friends to rat each other out.

No, today's musings will be confined to this one question: Is Roger Clemens lying when he says that he never used illegal performance enhancing drugs? First let us examine the admittedly sorry record before us.

A shady character named Brian McNamee was Roger Clemens's personal trainer. He told the Mitchell Commission that he began injecting Clemens with both Winstrol and Androl-50 in 1999. He also stated during Clemens's early years in New York that he injected Clemens with Human Groth Hormone or HGH as well. He quit injecting the HGH in 2001 because Clemens didn't like being injected in the belly button which I can only surmise is how you deliver that particular vitamin.

McNamee also claims to have injected Yankee teammate Andy Petitte with steroids and more bizarrely, states that he injected Debbie Clemens, Roger's wife, with HGH as well so that she would appear more buff in a 2003 issue of Sports Illustrated in which she was to appear in a swimsuit.

As you might well imagine, Brian McNamee ain't exactly a Boy Scout. In 2001, he was investigated for date-rape after he was discovered in a hotel swimming pool having sex with a disoriented woman. She was later found to have near toxic levels of GHB in her drug stream. GHB is a anesthetic which has very limited legitimate medical uses. It is, however, widely used illegally by bodybuilders, clubgoers and date-rapists. A bottle of the stuff was found there by the pool.

To McNamee's doubtless endless relief, the woman's credibility turned out to be questionable after she lied to the cops about how she came to be at the hotel (It turns out that she was having an affair with one of the Yankees. After all, a baseball player screwing around on his wife is unheard of in the annals of sport.) and no charges were ever filed. The Yankees showed him the door. But he continued to work with Clemens and Petitte until 2007 when the Mitchell Report was issued and the Great Unpleasantness shook loose.

Andy Pettite corroborated McNamee's account to the Mitchell Commission. Debbie Clemens, who naturally has a website devoted to health and fitness issues ( ), confirmed in a written statement read to Congress that McNamee did provide her with HGH in 2003 but that she injected herself., a distnction that the Clemens family evidently regards as crucial to the arc of their narrative. Finally, McNamee's lawyer has produced pictures of syringes, vials and cotton swabs that he maintains are the works used by his client to inject Roger Clemens.

Okay. So what do we make of this dog's breakfast?

McNamee is a liar and a hustler. But liars and hustlers have been known to tell the truth. Especially when their asses are in a sling. Again, both Andy Pettite and Debbie Clemens have corroborated his story.

So the question becomes this: What possible incentive would Andy Petitte-who up until this mess was considered a stright arrow-have to dime out his friend and teammate? And if it is true that Clemens never used performance enhancing drugs, why on Earth would he blithely allow his wife to experiment with HGH? There is no suggestion that he opposed her decision to try Botox Squared. Indeed, the testimony is to the effect that the decision to quit using it was hers. The implication is certainly that he had a familiarity and comfort level with the issue for whatever reason. And why throw her admission out there anyway? Why didn't Debbie Clemens just join the party and call McNamee a liar? To fade the heat from Roger? That doesn't make any sense and actually made matters worse to my ears. They admit McNamee is telling the truth about this incident and nothing else? Which brings us to the larger point. Is it believable, given the foregoing, that Roger Clemens was the only person in this troika of friends and lovers that did NOT dabble in these drugs?

One last item. The pictures supplied by McNamee prove nothing. But if a reputable lab extracts Clemens's DNA from the materials that appeared in the pictures, Clemens is facing El Problemo Grande. Which makes the decison by Clemens's lawyers to allow him to testify twice under oath before Congress curious indeed. These guys aren't stupid. I'm no high-dollar criminal lawyer but I sure as hell wouldn't have let him do it.

So, it comes down to this, Gentle Reader. Who do you believe? Or to put it another way, who do you disbelieve less, Brian McNamee or Roger Clemens?

Let me know what you think.
BTW......Debbie Clemens looks good in a Speedo.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

There Is A God

Vanderbilt clobbered Kentucky last night by 41 and the line was Kentucky by 6. The bookies had to leave the house with money after that historic debacle which is a quicker stimulus in some quarters than the check coming from the government.

Kentucky basketball fans are to hoops as LSU fans are to football. Do you think they believe they gave Billy Gillespie a 6 million dollar deal to get blown out by the resident scholars of the SEC?

As one of my old professors used to say, " To ask the question is to answer it."

Death To Oompa Loompas

Hit the link to see a picture of New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Police Commisioner Riley soberly and somberly contemplating the potential destructive power in a dense urban environment of weapons recently acquired by NOPD. I'm certain that the good people of Orleans Parish are assured by this article that this exotic weaponry is in good hands.

A tmfw thanks once again to Kassi for keeping me abreast of all things Orleans Parish.

If you don't get the Oompa Loompa reference scroll down, Moses.

We do not make this stuff up.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Dispatch From The Field

Polycarp on the obvious blatant 6 inch stiletto strappy shoes and scientifically engineered boobs that would stop a round from a 9mm type hooker count at the airport at Las Vegas: We are up to 23 as of 7:17 Central Standard Time.

Who says the economy is slowing down?

Monday, February 11, 2008

NOLA Police Report: 'I opened the door and this Oompa-Loompa is standing there."

And they say romance is dead.

Many thanks to my young friend Kassi Burns for passing along this item about an undoubtedly soon-to-be-heavily-sanctioned fellow Tulane Law alum.

A postscript: You will note that this whackjob ran or is running for NOLA City Council. In purusing his list of endorsements I couldn't but notice the name of famous NPR journalist Andre Codrescu.

Andre oughtta sue.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

And A Tragically Confused Carson Kressley Gets Beaten Up in Scottsdale

In baseball news, the pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training this week.

My Sunday Feeling

In case you hadn't noticed, college athletics, at least as it is practiced by the men in Division I, is a dirty arms race. As dirty as things are in football, it is a virtual pillar of rectitude when placed alongside basketball. Unlike football, you only need to get 2-3 guys together at one time to turn a mediocre basketball team into a good team. Note that I said, "good" team. The days of a Pete Maravich or a David Thompson turning a middling bunch into a 20 game winner are over.

It is for this reason that basketball looks relatively simple as opposed to the military style planning that goes into football. Perhaps it is for this reason that, as Alabama and UALR's Wimp Sanderson used to say, " Everybody thinks they can coach basketball." And so I would argue that expectations in the winter game are far more out of whack than in football. Bad times in hoops are simply easier to turn around.

So let us consider the last week in college basketball. South Carolina's Dave Odom announced his retirement. He opted for the gold watch before he got fired. Dave Odom is a good coach who took over a program that hasn't been much better than kiss my ass since the halcyon days of Frank McGuire 30 years ago. And those folks down there couldn't wait to get rid of him.

LSU fired John Brady who only took them to the Final Four two years ago. Never mind that he was as much a victim of circumstance as anything in the last two seasons as the Tigers were crippled by injuries and guys jumping to the NBA. Never mind that he took over a program they couldn't give away 11 years ago after maximum nutbar Dale Brown got through with it. Never mind that they have the worst facilities in the uber-competitive SEC. You haven't done much for us lately, John. Hit the bricks.

And Bob Knight retired from coaching with 10 or so games left on the Texas Tech Red Raiders's schedule. There is no more polarizing figure in sports. Make no mistake about it. Knight did some very very bad things. He threw a chair at an official. He assaulted an officer in Puerto Rico. It seemed like his every other utterance was boorish and profane.

He also accomplished some very good things. He won 3 national titles. His players tended to do well both in school and in later life. And by all accounts he remains close to them despite his fire and brimstone method of pedagogy that would certainly make a wallflower type like me want to forget the experience.

But guess what? Winning games and getting kids through school was his job. That's what he was paid to do. I'm here to say-and I can say this because everybody thinks they can coach basketball-that Robert Montgomery Knight (as he is referred to without surcease by Dick Vitale who has unfortunately completely recovered after surgery on his badly abused vocal chords) would not have survived anywhere else but in basketball crazy Indiana where he had an endless supply of Kip and Skip white boy types who were conditioned to take his abuse for the glory of playing for the Hoosiers.

He survived, barely, choking a player in practice. But when he grabbed a student who had the temerity to ask him, "Hey, Knight. What's up?" instead of "Coach" or "Mister", that was that at Indiana. Knight claimed that he was just trying to instruct the young man in the proper way of addressing his elders. It is to laugh. Bobby Knight is to etiquette as Osama Bin Laden is to diplomacy.

And so here's what's so galling about his "retirement." Knight's bumptious ways have always been tolerated because of his "integrity" and historically clean programs. Well. As I said earlier, running a clean program was what he was paid to do.

He quit on his players. Bobby Petrino leaves the Atlanta Falcons for the Arkansas job and he is rightfully depicted as a Jezebel. Knight does the same thing to Texas Tech becuase he is "tired" and the sports media doesn't bat an eye for the most part. And this is even after he tells ESPN's Jay Bilas-who is no dummy-that he hasn't ruled out a return to coaching! What do you want to bet that Knight could have summoned the resources to stick it out if the Raiders were leading the league?

Not only that, he quit on the administration at Texas Tech, and his buddy Gerald Myers, who went out on a limb to hire him when he was red-hot and radioactive after the debacle at Indiana.

Look. I'm no ivory tower type. I know that coaches get after players. They used to get after me. I know that stuff happens behind closed doors. When you are coaching young people it can't be a democracy. But there's a way to do it without being a martinet. Nobody spends more face-time with his players than Arkansas's John Pelphrey who also seems to get "teed up" by the officials every other game. And yet off the court, you will not find a more dignified and thoughtful person. Also consider thou the response of North Carolina's Roy Williams, when asked if he had any criticisms of Knight said with a straight face, " I might not have thrown a chair."

The days of a Bob Knight being allowed to visit sustained abuse on those around him are mercifully past. There's too much attention from the media and from the Internet. You grab a kid by the throat now, he sends an e-mail to his mama and she sends it to her friend and pretty soon it winds up on a message board. Ask Houston Nutt, who God knows never grabbed a kid in anger and still earned the wrath of thousands of disgruntled Hog fans just for being,well, Houston Nutt.

But only in the dirty world of college hoops can a thug like Bob Knight be thought of wistfully and thoughtfully as a paragon of virtue. It's a low bar. A real low bar.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Customer Service

An elderly lady with a walking stick was in the line ahead of me at the Post Office this afternoon.

" I just got my gas bill. I about fainted when I opened it up," she said.

" How much was it, Miss Jean?, " asked the female postal worker as she applied the postage to the box being mailed by the lady.

" 300 dollars! Ted paid all the bills so maybe it has been that high in the past and I never knew it. But I never saw one that high."

" It was awful cold last month, Miss Jean."

" It wasn't that cold. Anyway, I called the gas company to see if there was a mistake."

" What did they say?'

" Well I told them that I had never seen a bill that high before. Of course, Ted paid all the bills."

" Yes ma'am Miss Jean. But what did they tell you?"

" They told me that the reason why the bill was so high was because there weren't two bodies producing heat in the house now that Ted's died which makes the house colder."

The postal worker looked at Miss Jean in stunned silence. Eventually she spoke.

" Jean, that's just ridiculous." she said.

" Well, that's what I thought. I had half a mind to go to the main office downtown and hit somebody with this walking stick. But then my son told me that the gas company doesn't have an office in Little Rock anymore," Jean said.

" They probably don't come to think of it."

" I wouldn't know. Ted paid all the bills. But I sure have been forced to learn a lot of stuff lately."

And with that Miss Jean took her leave.

Monday, February 04, 2008

The Best Thing About What Happened Last Night

Eugene "Mercury" Morris will hopefully shut the hell up about how much better the '72 Miami Dolphins were.
Jesus. What a windbag.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

My Sunday Feeling

" God, I hate Phoenix," said the nice lady sitting next to me on my flight to Tucson last year. " Phoenix is just so big. Tucson is more..."

"More what?" I asked.

"Manageable. Tucson is a lot more manageable than Phoenix is. Phoenix is awful."

I have a cousin who is a banker over there. I asked him if he ever went out to suburban Glendale to watch the Phoenix Cardinals play. The perenially dreadful Cardinals, who are easily the worst managed franchise in professional sports, worse than the Los Angeles Clippers even, are the only NFL team where you can still walk up and buy tickets most games. I would go just to see an NFL game despite the fact that the Cardinals suck out loud. God knows that was the only reason I took in a couple of Saints games back in the early Eighties when I was matriculating at Tulane.

" Hell, no" my cousin replied. " I occasionally come into some tickets at the bank. But it's just too much friggin' trouble to get out there with the traffic and everything. It's not worth it."

Glendale Arizona is the site of this year's high holy day of the American civic religion known as pro football. The game will be played at deceptively named University of Phoenix Stadium. The University of Phoenix is a nationwide diploma mill who acquired the naming rights to the place despite the fact that the only tenants there are the Cardinals and the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. They got themselves a high dollar stadium without either a team or much of a school for that matter.

Ain't marketing grand?

As I have stated elsewhere, I'm not much of a pro football fan. I follow the Saints for some reason but it is rare that I will actually watch a game. Indeed, the two league playoff games a few weeks ago were the first time I watched two NFL games back-to-back since, well, last year. The NFL is too slick, too stuck on itself and its "brand." If IBM invented a sport it would be NFL football.

Still, I am kind of interested in tomorrow's game if only to see if the New England Patriots can pull off what I'm pretty sure would be a once-in-a-lifetime deal: Go undefeated.

Understand, as Wally Hall would say, that the NFL is a rigged game. I don't mean that in the illegal sense, unlike the NBA of the last couple of years where damned if it didn't turn out that some of the games were rigged by a dirty referee. What I mean is that the NFL, for all of it's corporate atmosphere, is a socialist system where parity among the teams is the goal of the draft and the salary caps all teams work under. No owner can buy a title in the NFL. And the Yankee teams of recent vintage have proven that it is increasingly damned difficult to do it in baseball.

So for the New England Patriots to have run the table, and for the most part in convincing fashion, is pretty remarkable. The system is just not set up to produce perenially dominating teams. It's not good for business. Not that anybody in the NFL is going broke. Even the execrable Cardinals turn a nice profit every year due to revenue sharing. Nowhere else in professional sports is such incompetent management rewarded as in the NFL.

So? What about the game itself? It's hard to bet against the Patriots. They play just enough defense to slow the Giants down and they have too many weapons on offense. Still, the Giants have got a puncher's chance. They scared the bejeezus out of the Patriots back in December. And if you go with the "hot team" theory of prognostication, nobody has played better than the Giants in the last month.

Nobody but the Patriots that is. And the idiotic playoff format used by the NFL with the two week layoff between the playoff games and the Super Bowl pretty much penalizes any team that is counting on momentum to get them over.

It says here that the Patriots win in a squeaker and ride off into NFL immortality with a season you will never see again.

Because the NFL is a rigged game. Domination is bad for business.